On In History & Religion

Bloody Battles and Sieges of the Ancient World That Changed the Course of History

The contradictory aspects of battlefields make them horrifying and fascinating at the same time. It’s a place that is defined by violence, betrayal, and killing. At the same time, the aspects of courage, virtue, and honour also get associated. This cacophonous harmony of contradicting aspects has always sparked interest in human about the legends of wars, battles, and sieges.We take this opportunity to revisit the pages of history in the search for some of the bloodiest battles and sieges of mankind. The battles that fueled some of the crucial changes that paved the path for the modern era. Are you ready to know more? Hold tight and let’s take you on a horrifyingly fascinating journey.  

The Battle of Thermopylae

Led by King Xerxes, the Persians were determined to conquer entire Greece. Their main opposition came from King Leonidas of Sparta who joined forces with the Athenians to fight off the Greeks. With only 10,000 warriors, it was one of the bloodiest battles of the ancient world. The battle that was fought in 480 BC became famous as the Greeks broke the defensive line with treachery but the 300 Spartans fought till their last breath. 

The Battle of Tours

This battle was fought not between nations but religions. It was a fight to ensure the existence of Christianity in Europe. The battle took place between 20,000 combined Frankish and Burgundian forces and the 50,000 soldiers of Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi. Ghafiqi intended to bring Islam to Europe. In October 732 AD, it took place near the city of Tours in France. This battle was crucial as it might have changed the existing picture of the dominance of Christianity in Europe if Ghafiqi won.   

Battle of Hastings

This important and bloody war in history took place in 1066 AD on October 14. It was the fight between armies of France’s Duke William of Normandy and King Harold II of England. Harold died in the battle that opened the throne for first Norman ruler King William I. He established strong cavalry, infantry, and archers that successfully ended foreign invasions on the British Islands. 

The Battle of Cajamarca 

One night on November 16, 1532, the Spanish attacked the royal entourage of Atahualpa. This ambush caused the death of 2,000 Incan followed by capture of 5,000. This battle ended badly as the traditional weapons of Incas were no match against Spanish cavalry and cannons.  

The Battle of Naseby

When the core army of King Charles I battled against Parliamentarian New Model Army, the result was a sheer massacre. This battle is remembered as it brutally slaughtered the Royalists followed by the capture and public execution of King Charles I. It was fought in 1645 and marked the end of first English Civil War.   

The Siege of Kiev 

This is perhaps one among the bloodiest sieges in the history of mankind. When Batu Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan attacked one of the oldest cities in Europe - Kiev, then the city saw nothing but death. Other than getting killed by Khan’s army, many civilians were killed when the 300 years old church, where they took refuge, collapsed. At the end, this glorious city was demolished to ruins. It is said that out of 50,000 inhabitants only 2,000 survived.  

The Battle of Kalinga 

Fought between the Mauryan Empire and the Kingdom of Kalinga, this battle made to the pages of history by its sheer brutality. Fought near Daya River, it’s one of the bloodiest wars in Indian history. Kalinga, with their 63,000 fought for their independence against 400,000 Mauryan. Not only the army of Kalinga but also many civilians were killed. There were so many deaths that the river water turned red with blood. The battle that took place in 261 BC caused about 300,000 casualties including both sides. This battle led to the transformation of Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, who then changed into Buddhism and started spreading the words of peace.

The Siege of Tenochtitlan 

This siege in 1521 AD ended the rule of Aztec Empire and resulted in around 200,000 casualties. Though the Aztecs fought bravely, the battle saw the victory of Spanish troops. After the siege, many warriors and civilians were ruthlessly massacred.  

The Battle of Didgori 

Though this battle led to the massacre of many, it’s also brilliant evidence of battle strategy. The Great Seljuq Empire with about 600,000 men invaded the Kingdom of Georgia. The number of men in Georgian army counted to just about 55,600. So, a force of 200 cavalries signalled Seljuqs that they want to surrender. The Muslim commander of Seljuqs took them to his tent where the army massacred the leaders. Unable to form a defence without the leaders the Seljuqs army ran astray who were then further killed by Georgian army. About 70% of the total Seljuqs army was killed mercilessly.